From central Hyderabad, there’s a day out that should be part of any
visitor’s itinerary. Its 11 kilometers away and a 25-minute ride heading west
of the city. If there was a single place to visit in Hyderabad, it would be Golconda Fort. Though a ruined city
these days, Golconda, which literally means “Shepherd’s Hill”, was the capital of an ancient city (1518 to 1687),
which once produced some of the country’s finest gems.
Built by Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah
Wali, the 4th king of the Quli
Qutb dynasty, a royal family of builders, the fortress rose from a 400-foot
granite hill that was designed to withstand and hold back the Mughal invaders
from the north. A distinct characteristic of its construction is its acoustic
system, i.e. a hand clap from the grand portico (the main gate) is readily transmitted
and heard at the top of the hill.
|Durbar Hall at the summit of the hill of Golconda Fort|
I booked a taxi ride from the Tourism
, a must-visit if you want hassle-free tours. The 2-to-3 hour return tour
from the city would cost 450 rupees
includes the driver waiting outside), but you could share the ride with other
I decided to share. After all, meeting other travelers (not my
strongest point) would be interesting. A delightful elderly Indian couple came
not long after. We were told that the trip covers a 20 kilometer distance (literature tells me it’s just 11 kilometers), and that the driver would wait outside while we checked out the massive fort.
With an amiable company joining me, I took the front seat beside the
driver and listened to the couple’s banter. The gentleman was a retired lawyer
who worked with his wife at a branch of the Central Bank in Mumbai. I intently listened to
their stories about earlier visits to Arizona (I think) and Greece.
the fort, I realized that the place wasn't designed for elderly patrons. After
all, they couldn't - and should not - install escalators on the hill, and it’s an arduous trek to
the top if you were in a hurry. The gentleman said he’d rather wait at the ground
level, contented to have reached the fortress. The lady felt she had to climb
up some distance. Now mind you, there are 380 uneven stone-steps to hurdle (some steeper than others). I felt it rude to whisk off my way so I patiently waited for the
lady. I was of course delighted with the company and was in no hurry. She
would wave me away, but I’d just walk slowly, subtly glancing behind me. I was just a few steps ahead just to see she was
The view of the sprawling expanse of Hyderabad is soon unraveled as you get near the peak – and it’s a delightful landscape of
greeneries interspersed with white structures.
|Palace ruins and courtyard|
We know what mountaineers say
about reaching the top, right? Well, I was wearing a wide grin already, feeling
smug for having gone there. And I wasn't even at the peak yet. At some point,
the lady felt she’s had enough; that it was time to head back down. She told me
I should continue further; and that she’d meet me later. She was breathless,
her blue dress billowing in the wind. I smiled and nodded... and went my way.
There were empty caverns, a prison, the Ibrahim and the Taramati Mosques, granaries, reservoirs, armories, a
citadel called Baradari, an audience
hall, and several other unlabeled structures. The place itself is massive:
consider 8 gates (with names like Fateh, Bahmani, Mecca, Naya Qula, etc.), 87
bastions each one mounted with cannons, and three layers of fortification
walls which were equipped with spikes to guard against elephant
attacks. I did wonder about the height of these spikes. Were there elephants the size of these walls? Kinda like Jurassic-era mammoth creatures? Talk about leaving no stones unturned against invasion. There were also rumors that underground tunnels had been diligently constructed, linking the fort to
the city of Hyderabad some 11 kilometers away just in case a siege occured and
the royals had to resort to an escape route.
I reunited with my co-travelers later. We both decided not to wait for
the lights-and-sound show that was due to start at sundown. It was too long a
wait for me, and I was glad they felt the same. Before saying our goodbyes, the adorable couple bashfully asked
for a photo with me, and of course it was my pleasure. Before I realized what was happening, several other Indians (the visitors I saw were mostly locals) came out from the crowd and decided to join the photo session. I wasn't acquainted with any of
them, but they amusingly took turns having their photos taken with me – and I felt
like some Hollywood royalty. I am still baffled as to why, to be honest. If I
were Caucasian, there would probably be novelty in it, but not when I am Asian like them.
Why the inexplicable whim to get their photos with
me? Maybe it’s because there’s not a lot of foreign visitor? Maybe I looked
like a circus sideshow? Or a movie star from some slasher flick? Who knew? It was discombobulating, but it was nevertheless fun being a celebrity for ten minutes or so.
I couldn't really complain. Far from the comfort of my home, I could only
be grateful for their hospitality and kindness.
This is the Eye in the Sky!
|Ruins of the barracks area.|
|View of the courtyard from the barracks.|
|Hurdling flights of stairs from the Balahisar Darwaza|
|The magnificent view of the city from the ascending trail.|
|The city of Hyderabad down below|
|Notice the two Qutb Shahi Tombs 1 kilometer north from the fort. The tombs are surrounded by gardens, and are open to public. |
|Colored relief seen at Ramda's Jail|
|The Ibrahim Mosque has two halls: a transverse outer hall and an inner hall. |
|Qutub Shahi Mosque was built by Sultan Ibrahim Qutb Shah who ruled for 30 years (1550 to 1580).|
|Colorful - Sri Jagadamba Mahakali Temple and a rock.|
|Phallic rock outcropping beside the Sri Jagadamba Mahakali Temple|
|Baradari or Citadel (above and below) - This was a two-story building with an open terrace at the top where the sultan would enjoy the view of the countryside. There was an audience hall as well. Nearby was the mouth leading to an alleged underground tunnel to the Goshamahal at a distance of 8 kilometers used by the Qutb Shahi Kings in case of danger or emergency. So far, this secret passage has never been found. |
|The adorable Indian couple I shared my taxi with.|
|Site map of the massive fortress found at the entrance .|
More photos from Golconda